The Justice Department is removing questions about gender identity and sexual orientation from a survey about violence.
The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) is administered twice a year to about 135,000 households. It’s confidential and voluntary and provides information about crimes, both reported and unreported.
The Justice Department issued a 30-day notice that questions about sexual orientation and gender identity will be removed from the survey when 16- and 17-year-olds take it. The questions have been a part of the NCVS since 2016.
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At issue are two questions. One asks about the participant’s sexual orientation, and the other is a two-part question about the participant’s sex assigned at birth and their gender identity.
“The minimum age for these questions will be raised to 18 due to concerns about the potential sensitivity of these questions for adolescents,” the memo states.
The Justice Department did not explain what “potential sensitivity” means, and why they’re only worried that those under the age of 18 will find the questions potentially sensitive. They could be referring to the idea that LGBT issues are an “adult” topic that children should be kept away from to protect their innocence.
“While we appreciate the potential sensitivity of these questions for some people, no one is forced to answer them,” said Adam Romero of the Williams Institute.
“Asking NCVS respondents to voluntarily and confidentially disclose their sexual orientation and gender identity provides crucial data on criminal victimization of LGBT people, who are subject to high rates of hate crimes and other violence,” he added.
“We know that LGBT youth are more likely to be victimized, sometimes by their own families, and we need data from the NCVS to learn whether crimes are reported and how the criminal justice system is responding to young LGBT victims,” said the Williams Institute’s Kerith Conron in a statement.
This isn’t the first time that the Justice Department, now headed by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has taken anti-LGBT actions since Donald Trump’s election.
Under Sessions’s leadership, the Justice Department has installed a “religious freedom czar,” reversed protections for transgender workers, and pushed the Department of Education to reverse Obama Era protections for transgender students.
The Justice Department is accepting public comment on the change until May 11, 2018. They have an email address and phone number posted at the link.